By Edwin S. Hopson
On January 24, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released 2013 data on union membership in both the private and public sectors.
The statistics are virtually unchanged from 2012. In 2013, BLS reported that the union membership rate overall was 11.3%, just as it was in 2012. The number of workers belonging to unions was 14.5 million. BLS noted that in 1983, the first year that comparable data is available, there were 17.7 million workers belonging to unions and the membership rate was 20.1%.
In 2013, the membership rate for private sector workers was 6.7%, while in the public sector it was 35.3%. The highest rate of union members was in New York at 24.4%, and the lowest was North Carolina at 3%. In Kentucky, the rate of union membership in 2013 was 11.2% as compared to 11.4% in 2012. In Indiana, the rate of union membership in 2013 was 9.3% as compared to 10% in 2012. In Tennessee, the rate of union membership in 2013 was 6.1% as compared to 5.9% in 2012. And in Mississippi, the rate of union membership in 2013 was 3.7% as compared to 5.7% in 2012.
In terms of age, BLS reported that the union membership rate was highest among people ages 45 to 64 at 14%.
In the public sector, union membership was the highest for local government at 40.8%. This category included teachers, police, and firefighters. The highest category for union membership in the private sector was utilities at 25.6%.
BLS’ entire report may be viewed at: